Just yesterday, while wandering the enchanted forest paths of the internet, we bumped into this BMW Z3 “off-roadster.” In doing so we hit upon the newest—and certainly best—trend in automobilia: it’s called Battle Cars, and it rules.
Battle Cars covers any generally sporty car converted for off-road use. That means meaty off-road tires, and typically a lift and fender flares to go along with it. We’ve been aware of this type of vehicle—which you’ve no doubt seen around, and more on that in a bit—but had never seen it had a proper name, or a subculture around it.
I kind of imagine that this whole thing sprung forth pretty organically from the fascination with stance. The internet car world was just getting familiar with ultra-wide riveted fender flares that the off-road world was pretty accustomed to. The idea of a good stance on a car, the right look in how the car sits, applies just as well to cars sitting high and wide as it does ones sitting ultra low.
The lifted Rocket Bunny Nissan Silvia that popped up in 2015 is probably the missing link, so to speak.
Unsurprisingly, there is a subreddit to cover this, the wonderful r/BattleCars:
In it it’s easy to find the off-road Bentley Continental GT that has been popping up on various Instagrams over the past few days, though r/BattleCars user teriaksu turned up two pictures that aren’t everywhere else:
There are digital renders of cars, like this Mad Max-style 240Z:
The subreddit picked up on the most recent Roadkill Garage build, a lifted Challenger:
Of course, none of this is all-too new. Those Safari 911s call back to the kind of lifted sports cars that raced in the East African Safari Rally for decades, popular with this kind of vibe in the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and on, even now still popular as a vintage race.
Those cars have been popular for years, and I myself bought a lifted Baja Bug when I went out looking for a cool-looking and attainable old car.
The name is a fun one to run down. The most recent big use of ‘battle cars’ was in the precursor to Rocket League. It was called Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars and nobody played it back when it came out in 2008. The cars were, unsurprisingly, lifted Mad Max-style rides.
I myself am extremely happy to see more of these lifted sports cars and passenger cars. They’re like regular cars, but they ride better and look cooler and can go sideways in dirt. Carmakers played around with this concept a bit in the early 2000s but never brought it quite into production.
Does anybody think they’ll bring it back full-scale? How hard could it be for Mazda to sell us a rally Miata?